Plants to Feed This — and Other — Worlds

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson harvests red romaine lettuce on the space station, the first fresh produce grown and eaten in space. The Veggie project, which is ongoing, uses Florikan’s controlled-release fertilizer to nourish the growing plants. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Astronaut ice cream may be an exotic treat for kids, but for real space explorers, a fresh, crunchy salad could sometimes really hit the spot. And the ability to grow food in space will prove crucial for longer-duration voyages envisioned over the next decades.

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Camera on NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit

The first wild back-and-forth line records the moment on October 13, 2014 when the left Narrow Angle Camera’s radiator was struck by a meteoroid. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.

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Coming Soon: CubeSats with Frickin’ Laser Beams

CubeSats (Credit: ESA/Medialab)

Laser communications systems have become the next big thing in spacecraft design, promising improved communications. And now NASA is looking to put them on CubeSats.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has issued a request for information (RFI) seeking sources of compact laser transmitters that could be placed on one of these small satellites for a future technology demonstration space flight mission.

“Goddard is developing a CUBESat spacecraft with science mission payload for a multiple unit CUBESat spacecraft that will generate >1 Gbit/day science data at distances up to 0.5 Astronomical Units (AU). Reference 1 gives a notional CUBESat laser communications system concept,” the center said in the RFI.

“The purpose of this RFI is to solicit specific capability information from industry on master- oscillator power-amplifier (MOPA) laser communication transmitter technologies. This will be used for a cost, schedule and technical assessment to assist with preparing for a possible near-future NASA CUBESat spacecraft technology demonstration,” the RFI adds.

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U.S. National Lab Research Payloads Headed for ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (CASIS PR) The Orbital ATK Cygnus vehicle launched on its seventh cargo resupply mission (CRS-7) to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 18 aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V vehicle, carrying more than 40 ISS U.S. National Laboratory sponsored investigations.

The ISS U.S. National Laboratory is chartered to facilitate research in the microgravity environment that benefits life on Earth. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is leading the effort in partnership with NASA, industry, other government organizations, and academia to manage and promote the best use of the ISS National Lab.

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Europa Water Vapor Plumes – More Hubble Evidence

Video Caption: The Hubble Space Telescope has captured even more evidence of water vapor plumes on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The probable plumes appear to be repeating in the same location and correspond with a relatively warm region on Europa’s surface observed by the Galileo spacecraft.

Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/na…

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson

Music Credits: “Street Dancer” by Donn Wilkerson [BMI] and Lance Sumner [BMI]; Killer Tracks BMI; Killer Tracks Production Music

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12585

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NASA Laser Communications to Provide Orion with Faster Connections

The difference in image quality between the Apollo 8 Earthrise image, left, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Earthrise image, right, is due, in part, to the much higher data rate available for LRO’s communications. LEMNOS will provide another order of magnitude improvement over current data rates. (Credits: NASA)

By Ashley Hume
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is working to forever change the way astronauts communicate to and from space using an advanced laser communications system called LEMNOS, which will enable exponentially faster connections than ever before.

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NASA Taking First Steps Toward High-speed Space ‘Internet’

Engineers are currently testing the optical module assemblies on the Goddard-built optical test bench to ensure pointing accuracy during the upcoming mission. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Sandra Vilevac)

By Ashley Hume
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center,
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA is developing a trailblazing, long-term technology demonstration of what could become the high-speed internet of the sky.

The Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) will help NASA understand the best ways to operate laser communications systems. They could enable much higher data rates for connections between spacecraft and Earth, such as scientific data downlink and astronaut communications.

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NASA Team Develops Modular Avionics Systems for Small Spacecraft Missions

Goddard technologist Noosha Haghani holds one of many electronics cards, which she and her team designed for a new avionics system called MUSTANG. MUSTANG has been baselined for two upcoming NASA missions. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In just two years’ time, a team of NASA engineers accomplished what some thought impossible: the group created a smaller, more capable “brain” for smaller spacecraft.

Led by Project Manager and Chief Engineer Noosha Haghani, who works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the team leveraged years of knowledge gained during the development of NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, to design a significantly smaller electronics system.

Dubbed MUSTANG, short for the Modular Unified Space Technology Avionics for Next Generation missions, the technology acts as the mission’s brain and central nervous system, controlling every function needed to gather scientific data from a Small Explorer-type mission. This includes everything from spacecraft command and data handling to attitude control, power, and propulsion, to name just a few tasks. The team also developed a variation of the system — iMUSTANG — for instrument electronics and, like its sibling, it allows users to choose different capabilities depending on instrument needs.

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Lasers Could Give Space Research its ‘Broadband’ Moment

Several upcoming NASA missions will use lasers to increase data transmission from space. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Amber Jacobson, producer)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Thought your Internet speeds were slow? Try being a space scientist for a day.

The vast distances involved will throttle data rates to a trickle. You’re lucky if a spacecraft can send more than a few megabits per second (Mbps) — a pittance even by dial-up standards.

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Begins Earth-Trojan Asteroid Search

This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

GREENBELT, MD (NASA PR) — A NASA spacecraft begins its search Thursday for an enigmatic class of near-Earth objects known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. OSIRIS-REx, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend almost two weeks searching for evidence of these small bodies.

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Successful Deep Space Maneuver for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft

This is an artist's concept of NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney
This is an artist’s concept of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft preparing to take a sample from asteroid Bennu. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Meaney)

By Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

New tracking data confirms that NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft aced its first Deep Space Maneuver (DSM-1) on Dec. 28, 2016. The engine burn sets up the spacecraft for an Earth gravity assist this fall as it continues its two-year journey to the asteroid Bennu.

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Piers Sellers: A Legacy of Science

piers_sellers2
Piers Sellers floating above on the aft flight deck of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2002. (Credits: NASA)

By Patrick Lynch
NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center

Piers Sellers, who passed away on Dec. 23 more than a year after learning he had pancreatic cancer, leaves behind a dynamic legacy at NASA.

As an astronaut he helped build the International Space Station. As a manager he helped lead hundreds of scientists. And as a public figure he was an inspiration to many for his optimistic take on humanity’s ability to confront Earth’s changing climate.

But his most lasting contributions will be in the field where he began his career: science.

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NASA Satellite Servicing Office Becomes a Projects Division

SSPD_Emblem_2016_Project_UseGREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Since 2009, the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has been building upon the heritage of satellite servicing and repair that began with NASA’s successful servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. Recently, SSCO became the Satellite Servicing Projects Division (SSPD), continuing its growth from one office with multiple demonstrations to a division of three offices and two projects.

The creation of SSPD is more than a name change. “The growth of satellite servicing projects and demonstrations necessitated the evolution of the office into a division,” said Ben Reed, deputy division director for SSPD. SSCO was a vital bridge from human-based shuttle servicing to robotic-based multiple-orbit servicing. “It was the foundation that will allow us as a division to expand our technologies for multiple stakeholders – from on-orbit refueling to large aperture telescope assembly in space, and NASA’s Journey to Mars.”

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NASA OSIRIS-REx Mission to Search for Rare Asteroids

In February 2017, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will undertake a search for Earth-Trojan asteroids while on its outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu. Earth Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with Earth while remaining near a stable point 60 degrees in front of or behind the planet. (Credit: University of Arizona/Heather Roper)
In February 2017, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will undertake a search for Earth-Trojan asteroids while on its outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu. Earth Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with Earth while remaining near a stable point 60 degrees in front of or behind the planet. (Credit: University of Arizona/Heather Roper)
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s first mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth will be multitasking during its two-year outbound cruise to the asteroid Bennu. On Feb. 9-20, the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security– Regolith Explorer) spacecraft will activate its onboard camera suite and commence a search for elusive “Trojan” asteroids.

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NASA’s NavCube Could Support an X-ray Communications Demonstration

NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital role helping to demonstrate X-ray communications in space — a potential NASA first. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)
NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital NavCube, the product of a merger between the Goddard-developed SpaceCube 2.0 and Navigator GPS technologies, could play a vital role helping to demonstrate X-ray communications in space — a potential NASA first. (Credit: NASA/W. Hrybyk)

By Lori Keesey
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Two proven technologies have been combined to create a promising new technology that could meet future navigational challenges in deep space. It also may help demonstrate — for the first time — X-ray communications in space, a capability that would allow the transmission of gigabits per second throughout the solar system.

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